THIS OR THAT: Rollerball Edition

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This or That – Rollerball Edition!

Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan

 I was surprised when I learned that Goulet Pens would be carrying the Lamy Safari Rollerballs. Surprised and intrigued. Then! I saw that Jet Pens started carrying the Pilot Metropolitan in a Rollerball, too. (Sometime in the last couple of days, Goulet Pens also began carrying the Pilot Metropolitan Rollerball.)

In the way-back past, I was not a fan of rollerballs. More often than not, they just didn’t write well for me. I’ve since learned there can be a couple of reasons for this: 1) rollerball inks have traditionally been liquid and these can dry out quickly, and 2) depending on the user’s grip, the angle of the pen may put the ball in such a position that it doesn’t roll smoothly across the paper.

I was definitely feeling guarded when I ordered, but let’s dive in and see how things worked out.

Both pens are attractive and look very much like their fountain pen cousins. Brian Goulet has a terrific video about the Safari Rollerball where he talks about all of the differences between it and the fountain pen. You can see that video right here.

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Even the grips of each pen look familiar.

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However . . . Those of you who have the Lamy Safari fountain pen(s) know that they have a unique grip section. The Lamy Rollerball has a similar (but different) grip that I am not finding 100% comfortable.

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But how do they write?

Actually . . . quite well!  The Metropolitan came equipped with a black refill. Pilot G-2 gel refills are available in a variety of sizes and colors.

The white Safari comes with a blue refill – all of the Lamy rollerballs come with a black refill (I don’t know why). Refills are available in standard colors – black, blue, red, and green. I checked in with Goulet Pens – these refills are also gel.

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And here’s a side-by-side comparison for you . . .

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So which one? This or that?

Appearance:  Tie!

Writing Experience:  Metropolitan.

While each writes wonderfully, the Lamy rollerball grip isn’t going to be comfortable for everyone.

Refills: Metropolitan.

Not only are the refills available in a variety of sizes (.38, .5, .7) and colors (blue, black, purple, teal, turquoise, burgundy, pink, hunter green, red, caramel, navy, orange, periwinkle, green, lime), they are available all over the place. (Though ironically, I don’t see any on the Goulet website.)

Price:  Metropolitan.

The Pilot Metropolitan seems to be around $8-10 less than the Safari Rollerballs – even more if you’re digging the Al-Star Rollerballs.

Bottom Line: Easy decision for me – Pilot Metropolitan Rollerballs, for the win!

Have you tried either of these? What do you think of rollerballs in general? I’m a bit of a convert after experiencing these!

5 thoughts on “THIS OR THAT: Rollerball Edition

  1. I’ve used both the Metropolitan and Al-Star rollerball (which is just a metal bodied Safari) and both write really nice. The Metropolitan uses the Pilot G2 size refill so there are a lot of refills that will for, including the Pilot Juice. The Lamy Safari/Al Star rollerball is supposed to use the proprietary Lamy M66 (I think it’s the M66) refill BUT the only difference between the M66 and a Pilot G2 is the length with the M66 being longer. This means Pilot G2 size refills can be used in the Safari/Al Star rollerballs, you just need a spacer to fill in the backspace. Also, the Pentel EnerGel, Uniball Signo 207 refills will fit as we’ll using a spacer the same length that’s needed for the Pilot G2 and the Schmidt P8126 (Retro 51 Tornado refil) will fit too though a different sized spacer is needed for the P8126.

      • I used the plastic tubing that comes with Karas Kustoms pens but the back of a cheap ballpoint refill will work. I just lined the refills up and cut the tubing to make the G2 or P8126 refill the length of the Lamy refill. The spacer for the Pilot G2 should work for the EnerGel and Signo 207 refill. This hack works with the Lamy 2000 rollerball (currently have a .5 EnerGel in mine) too except that the P8126 will not fit the 2000 RB. I think the P8126 hits the metal tension ring for the nubs that hold the cap in place.

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